In a matchup of two of the AL's hottest teams, the Baltimore Orioles struck first.
Regardless of that outcome, there's no disputing which club has the advantage in the second game of this four-game set between playoff contenders.
Coming off their first loss in seven contests, the Chicago White Sox appear to be in good position to rebound with Chris Sale taking the mound Tuesday night against the Orioles.
After completing a perfect six-game homestand, the White Sox (71-56) hoped to continue their momentum in the opener of a seven-game trip Monday. They took a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth inning before Nate McLouth 's two-run homer in the bottom half gave the Orioles a 4-3 victory.
Baltimore overcame a pair of one-run deficits in its franchise-record 13th consecutive one-run win."This is as good of a club as I've ever had about staying in the moment," manager Buck Showalter said. "That's a challenge when you are around so many things that aren't really realistic, to stay together and challenge the things that really are important."
McLouth's second homer in five games continued an unlikely season for the Orioles, who also got a home run from Lew Ford - his first since July 29, 2007, with Minnesota.Asked if he ever doubted something like this could happen after being released by Pittsburgh at the end of May, McLouth replied, "Maybe. I think that's probably fair to say. But I love playing baseball. The Orioles were gracious to give me an opportunity and I'm happy to be here. I'm excited. It's been fun so far."
With its third straight win and 15th in 21 games, Baltimore (70-57) moved into a tie with Oakland for the top wild-card spot and pulled within 3 1/2 games of the East-leading Yankees.
A win Tuesday would put the Orioles 14 games over .500 for the first time since they were 42-28 on June 21, 2005.
Chicago, meanwhile, had its lead in the Central trimmed to two games over idle Detroit with its fourth straight road loss. Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run homer and is batting .333 with six home runs and 18 RBIs in his last 13 games at Camden Yards.
Sale (15-4, 2.65 ERA) was outstanding again in his most recent appearance, allowing only Derek Jeter 's solo homer and two other hits while striking out 13 in 7 2-3 innings of a 2-1 victory over the Yankees on Wednesday.
The left-hander - among the major league wins leaders - agreed that his performance was perhaps the best of his young career."If it's not, it's up there for sure," Sale said. "That's one to build on. Just try to use it for my next outing."
Sale has won 12 of his last 14 decisions and has struck out 36 in 29 innings spanning four August starts. He's 1-2 with a 6.30 ERA in his last three road outings, however.
This will be his first start versus the Orioles after posting a 5.06 ERA in six relief outings.
Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones went 0 for 4 in the opener and is homerless in 108 at-bats, tying the longest drought of his career.
Chris Tillman (6-2, 3.71) will be pitching on six days' rest after his scheduled start Sunday was postponed due to rain. After giving up nine runs over 10 1-3 innings in his previous two starts - both at home - the right-hander limited Texas to three runs and six hits while striking out seven over 6 2-3 of a 5-3 road win last Tuesday.
He's split two career starts against the White Sox, yielding six runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings of a 6-3 loss on Aug. 11, 2011.
Chicago shortstop Alexei Ramirez is 4 for 5 with a homer off Tillman.
|Chicago White Sox|
|August 26, 2012||Gavin Floyd||Day-to-Day||Right elbow discomfort|
|August 25, 2012||Dayan Viciedo||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder soreness|
|August 19, 2012||Kevin Youkilis||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|August 18, 2012||Alejandro De Aza||15-Day DL||Bruised left ribcage|
|August 16, 2012||Orlando Hudson||15-Day DL||Left foot contusion|
|August 14, 2012||Leyson Septimo||15-Day DL||Left biceps inflammation|
|August 22, 2012||Matt Wieters||Day-to-Day||Left game - right shoulder contusion|
|August 13, 2012||Troy Patton||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|August 12, 2012||Wilson Betemit||15-Day DL||Sore right wrist|
|August 02, 2012||Ryan Flaherty||15-Day DL||Bacterial infection|
|August 02, 2012||Ryan Flaherty||15-Day DL||Bacterial infection|
|July 28, 2012||Jim Thome||15-Day DL||Herniated disc|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- It's hard to determine which was more impressive: Chris Tillman 's domination of the White Sox, or the how the Baltimore Orioles mistreated Chicago ace Chris Sale .
Tillman allowed one hit over seven innings, Nick Markakis drove in three runs and Baltimore cruised to a 6-0 victory Tuesday night to extend its winning streak to four.
Lew Ford homered for the second time in two nights and Adam Jones hit his 100th career home run for the Orioles, who moved a season-high 14 games over .500 (71-57) and remained atop the AL wild-card standings.
The only hit against Tillman (7-2) was a dribbler by Dayan Viciedo in the fifth inning that shortstop J.J. Hardy couldn't snag with an attempted barehanded pickup.
"If J.J. isn't making the play, then no one's making the play," said Tillman, who lamented his four walks more than that one scratch hit.
"There were plenty of games where I had better stuff," the right-hander insisted. "There were some spurts there when I kind of got out of whack."
Brian Matusz worked the final two innings, allowing one hit in completing Baltimore's seventh shutout.
Sale (15-5) gave up four runs and six hits in four innings, his shortest start of the season. Coming off a 13-strikeout win over the Yankees, the left-hander lost for the second time in six starts since July 21.
Asked why he was removed after only 75 pitches, Sale replied, "Just came to me after the fourth and said that's it for the night. You don't want to get that call. I didn't do anything to help our team win tonight. I kind of put them in a tough spot, pulling the starter after four. I got no one to blame but myself. That's as bad as it gets."
Chicago manager Robin Ventura said, "It was just one of those evenings it didn't look like he had it."
It was the fifth straight road loss for the White Sox, who won six in a row at home before dropping the first two of this four-game series. It was Chicago's most lopsided shutout defeat of the season.
The Orioles have won 12 of 15 at home as they continue toward their first winning season in 15 years, but their scintillating play has not attracted large crowds at Camden Yards this week. Only 12,814 showed up for this one, slightly more than the 10,955 on Monday night.
Those in attendance saw an impressive pitching performance by Tillman, who has as many wins this year as in his previous three seasons combined.
"Tillman shut down one of the game's best offenses," Jones said. "Those guys are hitting . He shut that lineup down."
After Sale struck out the first two batters in the second inning, Baltimore used a single by Nate McLouth and two walks to load the bases for Markakis, who drove in three runs with a double to center.
"It was almost like I hit a brick wall," Sale said. "The first couple of (batters) I felt like I was dialed in, throwing strikes. Then it just got away."
Ford made it 4-0 in the third with a drive to left, making it seven straight games in which Sale has given up at least one home run. The last time Ford homered on successive nights was in 2005, when he homered in three consecutive games with Minnesota.
Manny Machado delivered a sacrifice fly in the sixth and Jones hit an opposite-field shot to right in the seventh. The drive ended a career-high 110 at-bat homerless drought and gave him 25 for the season, tying a career high.
Earlier this week, the slumping Jones said he was on "a vacation." Asked if was back, he replied, "I booked the flight back home. I'm on standby or something. I don't know. But that's why you've got 25 guys here to pick you up."
NOTES: McLouth had a season-high three hits. ... LHP Joe Saunders will make his Orioles debut on Wednesday night, starting against Chicago RHP Dylan Axelrod , who was recalled by the White Sox from Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday. Axelrod replaces Gavin Floyd , who was placed on the 15-day DL with an elbow injury. ... The last time Baltimore was 14 games over .500 was June 21, 2005 (42-28). ... Chicago C A.J. Pierzynski went 0 for 3 and is hitless in his last 14 at-bats.